September 20, 2021
This week’s reading was Acts 15 to 21 and was about Paul’s missionary journeys. If you remember in Acts 9, Paul was a pharisee who was “breathing murderous threats against the Lord’s disciples.” While walking on the Damascus Road, he met Jesus. He was blinded for three days and was met by Ananias, who was sent by Jesus. Ananias placed hands on Paul and then scales fell off of his eyes and he could see again. Paul got up and was baptized and received the Holy Spirit. At once Paul began to preach. Jesus said that Paul was his “chosen instrument to carry my name before the Gentiles and their kings and before the people of Israel. I will show him how much he must suffer for my name.” (Acts 9:15).
After time, Paul set out on three major missionary journeys so that he could share the Good News about Christ to the Jews and the Gentiles just as Jesus said.
I want to talk about something that happened in Acts 16 during one of Paul’s journeys. It is an important message and one that I hope will encourage you, especially if you’re having a trial in your life.
Have you ever wondered if God was hearing your prayer or if He was there? Have you wondered why you were going through a difficult time?
I have asked the question during difficult times in my life, “God, why is this happening? If you are God, why not help me? Are you listening to my prayer?”
Paul, Timothy, and Silas tried to go to the province of Asia, but were kept by the Holy Spirit from preaching the word (vs. 6). They tried to go to another place called Mysia but the Spirit of Jesus would not allow them to (vs. 7). Then Paul had a vision of a man of Macedonia standing and begging him, “Come over to Macedonia and help us.” Paul concluded that God had called him and his companions to preach to people in Macedonia.
On his way to Macedonia Paul met a woman named Lydia in the town of Philippi and the Lord opened her heart to respond to Paul’s message. She and the members of her household were baptized.
While they were still in Philippi Paul was met by a female slave that had a spirit that predicted the future and she earned a lot of money for her owners. She kept following Paul around and Paul was annoyed so he commanded the spirit to come out. At that moment the spirit left her.
The owners realized she could not make any more money so had Paul and Silas arrested by the authorities. The crowd joined in the attack and Paul and Silas were beaten, flogged, and thrown into prison in the inner most cell and had their feet fastened with stocks.
Think about it. Flogging caused the skin to peel off and there was a lot of blood. They were in the worst part of the prison cell where there were no windows, and it was dark and damp and the floor was made of dirt. Paul and Silas’ feet were in stocks which were wooden beams with holes in them that held the legs far apart so the prisoner couldn’t run. They were on the dirt floor with their open wounds filling with dirt in an awkward position not being able to move.
If this were me, I would ask God, “Why is this happening? I thought you wanted me to go to Macedonia? Where are you?”
Paul and Silas had much more faith than me. They did not question or doubt God or think this was not His will for their life. In fact, they did just the opposite and praised God. Verse 25 says, “About midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God and the other prisoners were listening to them.”
This is amazing to me and something I need to do more when I am struggling in life.
Verse 26 says, “Suddenly there was such a violent earthquake that the foundations of the prison were shaken. At once all the prison doors flew open, and everyone’s chains came loose.”
The jailer then wanted to kill himself because he thought the prisoners escaped, but Paul told him they were still there.
Verse 29 says, “The jailer called for lights, rushed in and fell trembling before Paul and Silas. He then brought them out and asked, “Sirs, what must I do to be saved?”
This is the most important question anyone can ask and we find the answer in the next verse.
Verse 31-34 says, “They replied, “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved-you and your household. Then they spoke the word of the Lord to him and to all the others in his house. At that hour of the night the jailer took them and washed their wounds; then immediately he and all his household were baptized. The jailer brought them into his house and set a meal before them; he was filled with joy because he had come to believe in God-he and his whole household.”
Why did Paul and Silas have to go through so much? Because other people learned about Christ and were saved. The jailer and his family were saved. All of the people in the jail witnessed what had happened. Plus, many people have been encouraged through the writing of Paul and this story. “God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.” (Romans 8:28).
Why do you think Paul was willing to continue his travels and share about Christ after so many difficulties? It was because of what Jesus did for him on the cross. Paul said that he was the worst of the worst sinners yet Jesus still forgave him, died on a cross, rose for him, and gave him eternal life. Jesus’ love, grace, and mercy are more than we could imagine and this is why Paul continued sharing about Christ.
Paul went through hard times. He never let those difficulties diminish his faith in Christ. We should remember this during our own trials. God may have you going through a trial for His purpose. It may be so others can know Christ, or for another Godly reason. Remember, God loves you more than you can fathom. He will give you strength during your trial. As Paul said in Philippians 4:12-13, “I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. 13 I can do all this through him who gives me strength.” Trust Him.
- Are you going through a trial? Please ask God to give you the strength to get through it. Let me or others pray for you during this time.
Next week we will finish the book of Acts by reading Chapters 22-28.
References: Sermons by Skip Heitzig and Don Schultz